Dental chat

I woke up thinking about a conversation that I had with my dentist yesterday. Okay, it wasn’t really a conversation so much as he talked while I nodded my headed and uttered garbled responses because he had his hands in my mouth. It’s a tricky thing to carry on a conversation while you are in the dentist chair. You have to sneak in your comments when the dentist pauses to grab another instrument or check your ex-rays or something like that.

Anyhoo… we got on the subject of the crap economy after I told him about my impending lay-off. I was explaining how tight the j0b market is, especially here in Michigan, which of course he knew. And that the jobs that are available are often only part-time or temporary contract work, that unfortunately that seemed as if it was going to be part of the new reality work-wise. He pointed out that in discussions with small-business owners that he knows and has met that many of them are leery about hiring on full-time people because they don’t know how Obama Care is going to work once it is implemented — in what is it? 2014.

It was a good point. Because I had to admit I was every bit as confused. The Obama Administration and supporting Dems have done a terrible job explaining the new health care law and how it will work, perhaps because they don’t really know. Perhaps no one really knows. If someone does and can explain it, I’d be willing to listen, and even take notes.

My dentist also speculated that even if the economy does pick up and Obama Care works well (or at least doesn’t suck ass) they might just stick with running their businesses with a skeleton crew of full-time workers, filling in gaps with outsourcing, automation, and part-time and contract workers. Of course, an unintended consequence of this may be that people will reduce, perhaps even drastically, their spending habits on products and services. I know that if I’m only working part-time or on temporary contact I am NOT going to be spending my money. I”m going to be saving it, especially because I might need it in the even of a  medical emergency. Hell, forget emergency, I might need it for something minor, like a simply visit to the doctor’s office.

Which brings me back to the dentist, because I’m going to have to decide if I want to shell out money now to have him fix a filling and possibly put in a crown. Even with insurance, which I’ll have until the end of August, I’ll still have to pay out of pocket, but it won’t be as much as if a tooth suddenly goes bad when I don’t have insurance. And I have a tendency to grind my teeth at night which wears down the enamel and weakens fillings etc.  Not sure what to do at this point. It’s going to depend on the estimates I get back.

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One upside to being unemployed

Besides not having to shower in the morning or even put on pants that is. It may be better than having a crap job, at least that is the thrust of this Time article.

A new study says that, income notwithstanding, having a demanding, unstable and thankless job may make you even unhappier than not having a job at all.

Of course, I’m not sure that exactly applies to me. My job is not overly demanding. It was definitely unstable there leading up to notice of my lay-off. And I wouldn’t say it was thankless. It could sure be tedious and boring, but I liked that the fact that I worked in a library, that I was contributing to the purpose of such an institution even if what I did was not always that interesting or challenging.

Here are some numbers:

Unemployed people in the Australian study had a mental-health score (based on the five-item Mental Health Inventory, which measures depression, anxiety and positive well-being in the previous month) of 68.5. Employed people had an average score of  75.1. The researchers found that moving from unemployment to a good job raised workers’ scores by 3.3 points, but taking a bad job led to a 5.6-point drop below average. That was worse than remaining unemployed, which led to decline of about one point.

And here is a conclusion that made me smirk:

Perhaps employers could be persuaded to be more mindful of the mental health of their workers — happier employees are a benefit to their employers. “The erosion of work conditions,” the researchers noted, “may incur a health cost, which over the longer term will be both economically and socially counterproductive.”

Because while I believe that some employers may have good intentions when it comes to being mindful of their employees mental health that on the whole it is not high priority. Getting stuff done is, regardless of how it beats up employee moral.

RIP Uncle Doc

It was a week ago yesterday my  uncle passed away. Got a text from my cuz about 2am that he’d died an hour earlier. He was 83 years old.

His Christian name was Kenneth but as far back as anyone can remember he went by Doc, a nickname he picked  up as a kid, although I’m not sure how or why. Doesn’t matter. He was Doc Powell. To call him Kenneth would have seemed strange, even to his family, maybe especially to his family.

He was a WWII vet, a paratrooper who was supposed to be part of the D-Day invasion on Normandy but on his last qualifying jump he landed in some shale and cut up his ankles and so spent D-Day in a hospital bed. Later, he was to be part of the Japan invasion campaign. This time he was fit and on ship waiting to be deployed. Several times he, and the other soldiers, were told to prepare to invade, and each time it was put off. I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been to psyche yourself up to jump into battle only to be told to forget it. Of course, in the end there was no invasion of Japan. Truman dropped the bomb, and then another. And that was that. He never said so, but according to my cuz, Doc’s son, Truman was a hero to the man. Doc was stationed in Japan for a time; thereafter he could not tolerated the sight of rice, nevermind eating it.

There was no flag ceremony but there was a folded flag in his coffin, which later given to the family.

Doc had also been a cop. For 28 years. That’s how I remember him, in his dark blue uniform with a shiny black brimmed hat. Walkie talkie and gun on his black leather belt. As a kid I was eaqually awed and intimidated by him. He was a quiet man, kind of like a cowboy, at least to me. When I saw the “Wyatt Earp” movie and “Tombstone” and when I read the Loren Estleman novel, “Bloody Season,” about Earp and the famous shoot out, I was reminded of my Uncle Doc, a deliberate man.  All his years on the force he never drew his gun but once, or at least that’s what I recall being told. He was a new cop then, on a walking beat in downtown Clarksburg. There was store burglarly or hold up or something of the sort, and Doc chased one of the guys down an alley. It was dark and the guy shot at him. Doc, to mislead the shooter, kneeled down on on knee and held his flashlight up above his head, which caused the gunman to shoot over Doc’s head. Doc drew his weapon but never needed to fire it. The gunman turned his gun on himself to evade capture. If I remember the story correctly, this happend the night before Easter Sunday. My aunt didn’t learn of it until church the next day because Doc never told her about it. Of course, she was upset, wanted to know why her husband hadn’t told her he’d been shot at. Doc’s response was to wonder why he would tell her, he was just doing his job.

For the duration of his funeral, a cop was on guard by my uncle’s casket. They did a changing of the guard about ever fifteen mintues. There was also a police escort from the funeral home to the church, where an office stood guard outside during mass. It rained. The police escort continued on after church to the cemetary, where the cop car blocked traffic. After that I’m not sure what the cop did. I was a pallbearer and was focused on helping to carry the casket from the hearse to the grave-side. It was raining still, the ground was wet and muddy. I was afraid I might trip or lose my grip, but neither happened.

It was a sad day of course but also something of a relief. Doc had been suffering. He had emphysema from smoking cigarettes most of his life; he got started in the military, I think, they  handed them out for free. At the end he had to really work and concentrate to take a breath. At one point, he told my aunt that he simply couldn’t do it anymore. He was told he didn’t have to.

Some people loom large in your life,  like character in a novel or a movie. My Uncle Doc was such a person, for me anyway. He was a tacirturn man with a cowboy-like squint, as if scanning the West Virginia hills for signs of trouble. He struck as man of long thoughts, ones he mostly kept to himself. But he wasn’t all seriousness. Once, as our family was driving out of Clarksburg, heading back to Detroit, Doc, on duty, pulled us over just to say goodbye. He could be incredibly generous too. Once he gave me ten buck, just because he “never met a boy that couldn’t use ten dollars,” which I suppose is tru enough, but then a moment later he gave me twenty bucks, and then more and then more still, until he’d dished out almost a hundred dollars to me. I think he’d been out drinking with some of his buddies. Of course, I didn’t keep the money. Well, not all of it anyway. I was obliged to accept some of it.Doc wouldn’t tolerate otherwise.

Yep. My Uncle Doc was certainly and interesting man. He was a good man too, leading a life that served his country, his community and his family. And he will be missed. And certainly not soon forgotten. Not by me anyway. In fact, I’ve been toying with the idea of a story based on him and his life. Largely biographical but fictionalized here and there for effect. I would like to do that for him, and for his family.

X men and aging

The generation not the comic book heroes. Sorry…

Mindlessly surfing the web — well, not exactly I was doing my  irregular (why does that seem like such a GenX word?)* search for GenX authors/Literature that I may not yet be aware of — I came across this article by Douglas Coupland on aging. Figures — one can’t spit within the search results for anything Genertion X without hitting Douglas Coupland.

Anyhoo… I’ve always found this to be a curiuos subject because most of the time people mistake my age, often thinking that I am younger, sometimes much younger. This was particularly so in my late-twenties and early-thirties. By my late-thirties not so much. But since I’ve hit forty people are more often than not surprised when I tell them my age. Of course, this no doubt has as much to do with my juvenile personality than anything else.

It seems to me that Coupland’s attitude toward aging is indicative of the GenX attitude in general. That is, he doesn’t really mind aging so much because he understands that everyone else is aging right along with him. Sure, no one like aging but it is a fact of life and you either come to terms with it or spend your time foolishly wasting time and money trying to deny it, which seem more typical of Boomers. After all, they’re the ones that coined the phrase 60 is the new 40 blah blah blah. And they’re still doing it. I’ve heard 70 is the new 60. Please…

I’ve often thougth that GenXers will make not necessarily better but more graceful seniors than Boomers. For many of us it will be like a second go-around with our twenties — no job or only part time work in the service sector, lots of time on our hands to spend in places like Denny’s and the mall, and engaging in long, meandering cafeine-fueled conversations that are immensely interesting to us but to outsiders seemingly pretty dotty.

I predict that our music and clothes will be cool no matter what our age. And we sure as shit aren’t going to try and relive Lollapalooza; we’ll just let those younger than use have their turn. In case you’re not getting the hint Baby Boom your fucking Woodstock reunion was lame!

Anyway, the article is way more interesting than my blather, so check it!

*perhaps under different circumstances Generation X could have been dubbed the Irregular Genartion….or not.

GenX crusader….really?

My wife just fwd me this article from NY Times Magazine.

Jamie Oliver, aka The Naked Chef dude, is evidence that GenX has it’s share of crusaders. And true to GenX form his mission is concecrete and entrepreneurial. He wants people to learn the joys of a homecook meal, and eat healthy. A more than worthy cause. And he’s more than succesfful at it to date.

A strange confluence of death

I finished the Dan Chaon novel, Await Your Reply, yesterday. It was fucking amazing. I mean, it really blew my mind. In fact, my mind is still blown to some degree. And no, I am not high, although I kind of wished I was. Man, I could use a spliff right about now.

Anyhoo… At first, I hadn’t understood the reviews that made comparisons to Pynchon, or at least said that it was more Pynchonesque than Thomas Pynchon’s most recent novel, Inherent Vice, but as the story progressed and came together approaching the end the comparison and/or allusion made more and more sense. The culmination was and is haunting. I’ve no doubt that this book and it’s characters will stick with me for a long time to come. And I’m convinced that at some point I’ll be returning to it to read it again, something I rarely. The last book that effected me this strongly was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and that went on to win The Pulitzer, which I called even before it was being considered. I’m not saying Await Your Reply is a shoe in for the big P but I would not be surprised if it won something. It deserves at the ver least to be nominated.

After reading the last page, I went to the aknowledgements, which I liked to read. And I discovered that Dan Chaon’s wife of 20 years died after a long battle with ovarian cancer a few weeks after he finished the novel. As he did his final edits he had her scrawled notes on the manuscript to look at. That just hit me point blank in the heart. Umph!

What made it even more powerful was that early that day I’d learned that a cousin had died suddenly when she was struck by a falling tree on her farm. She was walking with her dogs and feeding ducks near a pond. There had been a storm the night before that apparently loosedn a tree and wel… Then I hear from my cousin that he is hurrying home because his father, my uncle, is most likely on his death bed.

It was just strange. And I’m still feeling the risidual effect of this confluence of events. Not that it means anything, or even has to. It just is what it is.

NYC in the morning…

6:30pm

I’m heading to NYC in the morning. Flight leaves around 7am. Figured I’d blog through this evening. And perhaps in the a.m. before I leave.

I’m not a very experienced flyer. My 8-yr-old daughter has more miles than I do. And I’m flying alone. Also, I’ve never been to NYC before. So this should be interesting. Actually, the flight will be the easy part. More challenging will be getting from La Guardia to Grand Central Station where I’m to meet Mike, a friend from college. There’s a bus that cost $12. If can’t find that, a taxi is between $30 and $40. I’m hoping to save the money.

6:53pm

Making a pot of pasta sauce and meatballs. That’s dinner for me and the remainder get tupperware-d for my gals when the return home from LA where they have been spending the week.

Hey, I thought thought of something. When I’m in NYC tomorrow, C will still be in LA. We’ll be like one of them famous, rich  power couples of whatever that divides their times bewtween and NYC and LA. Only with out the fame or the riches or the power. But still. Kewl.

Things to do, things to do. Like clean the guinea pig’s cage tonigt. I’m off!

7:10pm

The guinea pig cage clean.

Getting my travel face on — grrr! Watching Grosse Pointe Blank and having a bit of sauce (alcoholic not tomato-based).

Need to pack. I’ll be traveling light, very light. So I don’t have to check a bag, but also because I’ll be carrying whatever I bring with me all around NYC Friday. To save money, Mike and I (or rather Mike did) booked a room in Stamford, Connecticut. Sure, we’ll have to take the train in and out of the city each day but even so it’ll be less than staying in the city. I mean, unless we want to flop at a real dump or a hostel or something. No thank you! Maybe when I was in my 20s, but not now.

I blogged about the concept of traveling light in regards to Generation X but I neglected to save draft and clumsily stroked the wrong key (hate when that happens), wiping it all out.  I just got to wondering when kids regularly started carrying backpacks. I didn’t when I was young. Got my first bp when I started college. But I think it’s safe to say that Generation X pioneered, if you will, the backpack as almost constant companion. I’d imagine much if it has to do with so many kids of divorce. Since they might never know where they’d be form one day to the next, they had to carry certain thing with them all the time. They would have had to learn to pack light, not to mention quickly. I don’t have that particular skill (maybe because I feel the need to blog about it instead of actually doing it) but my wife does. Of course, her rents big D’s when she was like 2 and mine never did. Seems like there’s something to that. I don’t know.

8:29pm

Ahhhh. Nothing like a belly full of pasta and meatballs.

All but completely packed.

Need to get to bed earlier than usual tonight. Shouldn’t be hard. Feeling pretty sluggish already.

Still. I’m nervous about the trip. And not just because I’m flying alone. Or going to NYC for the first, and alone.  Been reading this book, The Survivors Club, about why certain people survive in certain situations and why other don’t, like plane crashes, which are covered in the chapter entitled Ninety Seconds to Save Your Life. Apparently 90s seconds is about all the time you have to get out of a plane that has crashed and is on fire. After that most people bite it. Also, you want to be no further than 5 rows away from an exit. Picking my seats, I made sure I was even closer than that.

Two thing to remember. First the 3-8 rule, which states that the first 3 mintues of a flight and the last 8 minutes are when a crash is mostly likely to occur. Ironically, those are the times when most people are least prepared. People have drinks before they got on bored. They take off their shoes. They read a book or newspaper. Listen to music. And reports reveal that only 61% of people actually pay attention to the in-flight safety instructions.

Second is 10-80-10. Which means that 10% of people in an emergency freeze. 80% freeze but are capable of snapping out of it. And 10% immediately act. Chances are you fall into the 80% so being prepared for that possiblity is worthwhile, because another related stats is that something like 47% of all flight attendants freeze, so you’re likely to be on your own in a crash.

The one thing I have working  my  favor, in addition to being close to an exit, is that statistically I am the most ABP (able body passenger type). I’m male, slender and traveling alone. So as long as I keep my shoes on and make a mental note of at least to escape routes I’m as well off as I can possibly be.

Anyway, you can see why I’m nervous. Maybe I wouldn’t be if I hadn’t read that stuff, but at least I’ll be prepared. Also, it’s worth keeing in mind that you much more likely to be in a car accident then in a place accident, and you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than an auto accident. Statistically speaking anyway. And staticically speaking, the majority of people survive plane crashes that are survivable. The ones that don’t are the ones that do not act to save themsleves.

So  yeah. I guess I’d rather be a little nervous and prepapred. But that’s just me.

That’s a wrap. For no anyway. Peace out.